I received a complimentary Pioneer car stereo in exchange for my honest review and promotion.
I think we can all agree that raising kids can be expensive. Because of this, my family does its best to avoid unnecessary expenses, including a second car payment. Over the course of our twelve years together, we have managed to never have more than one car payment at a time, including a few years where we didn't have a car payment at all until we bought our Santa Fe.
Last March we finally paid off the Santa Fe and had a glorious few months where, once again, we didn't have a car payment at all until May when my husband's commuter car started to show its age. The old girl was ready to retire, so we let her go to donate her parts to other, younger cars and we brought home our fun little Mini Cooper along with another car payment.
Now our trusty Santa Fe is almost ten years old, and most people probably would have turned it in before now, but this car has been good to us. We've only had one repair beyond wear and tear maintenance (knock on wood), and it has surpassed all of our expectations. Plus, it has low mileage for its age and is a manual transmission, which isn't easy to find anymore. But, it would be nice to have some of the bells and whistles of the newer cars.
So, instead of a brand new car and a second car payment, we decided to upgrade it instead. With a simple car stereo upgrade, we now have much of the convenience and safety of the newer cars without the expense. But, wait. How can a stereo upgrade bring an older car into a more current decade?
Let me introduce you to our new Pioneer AVH-4201NEX car stereo (and our musical taste). On the left is what our old stock radio looked like, and on the right is the upgraded Pioneer stereo. Pretty snazzy, right?
ABOUT THE PIONEER AVH-4201NEX CAR STEREO
As with many of the new car stereo models in Pioneer's NEX line, the Pioneer AVH-4201NEX has Apple CarPlay™ for me and Android Auto™ for my husband, a DVD/CD player, it fully integrates our Smartphones including Bluetooth®, navigation, and a back-up camera. Yes, a car stereo with a back-up camera! It also has a touchscreen interface which is great for me since I try to interact with all screens as if they're a touchscreen, even when they're not.
With Apple CarPlay™ I have access to all of the apps on my phone that make life on the road more convenient. I can play my music, or I can listen to Pandora, Spotify, or iHeart Radio. If I'm not in the mood for music, I can listen to an audiobook instead with one press of a button.
It's not just good for entertainment, though. I can make and receive calls and texts as well as use my maps for navigation. All of these features are also accessible by using Siri, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road with precious cargo in the back seat. Siri will do it all for you.
We are a house divided, so we have two cables to hook up our phones to the stereo. One for my iPhone and another for my husband's Android. These cables charge our phones as well as give us access to the features on our Smartphones.
Android Auto™ works in the same way as Apple CarPlay™, but the interface looks a little different. Even though Android doesn't have Siri, it also responds to voice commands.
With the integrated Bluetooth®, you can answer your phone or make calls. Before having this radio installed, I had to remember to bring my Bluetooth® earpiece with me, and a lot of the time, it needed charging. Having Bluetooth® right in the car has made driving safely and being available no longer mutually exclusive. If I didn't have my earpiece with me, I would turn my phone to vibrate and leave it in my purse, but now I can be available if someone needs me, either by phone or by text.
When a text message is received, it flashes right across the screen. If you choose to accept the text, the stereo can read it to you, and you can respond by voice command. It really couldn't be easier or safer! Texting and driving just isn't worth it, people.
SIRIUSXM® SATELLITE RADIO
With an adapter, SiriusXM® is a snap with the Pioneer AVH-4201NEX. With 24 presets, you can have all of your favorite music and sports at your fingertips. When listening to satellite radio, you also have the replay option to listen to something again, which is an enjoyable feature.
The Pioneer AVH-4201NEX can be hooked up to a navigation system, but since we have a GPS already and Google or Apple maps are available with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, we didn't have it hooked up. We may down the road, but right now it wasn't necessary.
As mentioned above, when utilizing navigation through your maps app on your Smartphone, you will get the same kind of navigation as you would with a GPS unit just by using your voice. It speaks to you, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road, and it is effortless to use. The only disadvantage is that it will use the data on your phone, but my husband uses Google Maps while he is visiting clients on business trips and the data usage is quite small.
Now on to safety. No matter how careful you are, you will always have a blind spot when using your car's side mirrors. Also, seeing something close up and directly behind your vehicle is near impossible. With the back-up camera, we can now see all around when backing up. We don't have to worry about toys in the driveway, people, other cars, shopping carts, etc. Now we can see everything right on our dash, thanks to the back-up camera. You can also switch to camera mode even when not in reverse, so you can see what is going on behind you while parked or even while driving. (Not to worry; my car wasn't in reverse, and there was an adult off-camera when my camera model was back there).
The camera is so small and hard to notice, especially with our dark colored vehicle. I didn't even know where it was mounted until my husband pointed it out to me.
DIGITAL MEDIA PLAYBACK
You can listen to audio from so many different sources with the Pioneer AVH-4201NEX. Digital music from your smartphone or MP3 player, CDs, satellite radio, terrestrial radio, or files from an SD card. I've even played a song on YouTube through the Bluetooth®.
With HD radio, you can now enjoy your terrestrial radio FM stations with CD-quality sound and AM stations with FM-quality sound. Also, you get new local FM stations without a subscription!
Another one of my favorite features is the remote control that comes with it. You may wonder why you would need a remote when everything is available on the touchscreen, but it does come in handy. Since this car doesn't have steering wheel controls, I leave it in the cup holder right next to me, and I can skip a song with the press of a button without leaning forward or taking my eyes off the road.
We have only scratched the surface of what this stereo is capable of. This system has Dual Zone Entertainment which means that along with CDs we can also play DVDs for our passengers to enjoy audio and video on rear seat monitors and headphones when we eventually get monitors installed in the back.
So, there you have it! The simplest way to upgrade our car and bring it into the year 2017. We now have the safety and convenience that you expect with newer vehicles for a fraction of the price and can use the money we saved on a second car payment for a vacation. When it comes time to replace it, we now have a great car with a great stereo and more modern features to pass down to our teenager.
To find out more about the Pioneer AVH-4201NEX and the other great stereo options, visit Pioneer's website or follow the #UpgradeYourCar hashtag on social media for more info.